Autocross #2 Report

From the Blog

Autocross #2 Report

photo by Angela WeaverOur April autocross was the first of our traditional back-to-back events with LPR at Marina. GGR hosted on Saturday, with LPR taking the reins on Sunday. Both days were Zone Autocross Series events, earning the participating drivers points in both their local region series and the Zone Autocross Series.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Zone Autocross Series is the autocross series run by the Zone 7 region. The intent is to encourage drivers to take the small extra effort to drive just a bit farther to go to events outside their local region. Visit new, exotic autocross venues, meet new people, broaden your competitive horizons, and pit yourself against other local hot-shoes!

Anyone is welcome, of course, but it’s also hoped that the Zone Series will be a kind of All-Star series. You might be top-dog in your local region, but how to you stack up against all the other top-dogs in the Zone? Only one way to find out – you’ve got to get out there and dive into the battle!

If your shelves are a bit bare, it’s also a chance for another trophy. But you have to compete in at least three different regions to qualify for a year end trophy. So if you’re a GGR member, coming to our GGR/LPR weekends at Marina isn’t enough. You’ll need to also get out to a Redwood Region, or Sacramento Valley Region event too. And speaking of which, Redwood Region is hosting a two-day, Saturday/Sunday Zone autocross weekend on May 20th and 20st at the Sonoma County Airport, and Sacramento Valley Region has a Zone event at the Stockton Fairgrounds on June 3rd. Mark your calendars.

Getting back to GGR Autocross #2, we had a very good turn out for a Marina event with 70 drivers taking times. That’s a good number for us at Marina, particularly given that the forecast was for some rain on Saturday. We did indeed get that rain, but it was just a brief shower in the later morning that stopped before noon and quickly dried out. The second morning session was compromised a bit, but everyone got a crack at a dry track in the afternoon sessions.

We had a special visitor at this event. The driver’s education chair from the Porsche Club of Finland, Olli Halttunen, and his wife were on a California vacation and took the time to drop by and hang out with use for most of the day. Ollie normally drives a 944 race car at all the classic tracks across Europe. A little rain didn’t phase our Finish friends, of course, so it didn’t take much effort to persuade Ollie to take a couple runs in the Dodge Challenger rental car in which they were touring California. If you’re ever visiting Finland, drop me a line, and I’ll put you in touch with Olli. They’re the kind of folks who will always be happy to have fellow Porsche drivers drop by.

Andrew and Ollie Halttunen, Porsche Club of Finland

After being off the pace at event #1, Andrew Blyholder was back on form, taking Top Time of Day from Steve Lau by 0.41 seconds in his 914-4 race car. Dave Dunwoodie followed Steve in his 1970 911 race car. Tara Shapowal, sharing Steve’s GT3, was fourth overall with the best Ladies placing in decades and perhaps all time. But the really big news was that Tara’s drive was good enough for TOP PAX TIME, beating out Andrew by 0.150 seconds. That’s a first for a woman in GGR! GO TARA GO!

Andrew congratulating Tara Shapowal, first female Top Time of Day for PAX

Another spectacular PAX drive was put in by relative rookie Himanshu Patel, taking third in PAX in his ’14 Cayman S. Himanshu only joined the GGR world in the summer of 2015, but he has really dived in with both feet, regularly participating in autocross, track, and fun run events. Doing this well, this quickly in the deep talent pool of GGR autocrossing is quite an achievement. Way to go Himanshu!

Full results are available at: http://pca-ggr.org/autocross/results/

I bragged last month about finally getting the GGR Autocross and Time Trail rules available on-line. In getting that done, however, I noticed an inconsistency between the points system AX class table listed in our rules and the class table listed on the GGR Points Classification System web site. Dooh! My assumption is that the table on the PCS web site is probably what was chosen for the class break points when the points system was introduced, and that somewhere along the line, someone felt an adjustment was warranted and the rule book was changed. Normally, I would have said that the rule book is the rule book, and that whatever it says there should trump the “un-official” web site. However, since the rule book has been difficult to access for several years and the web site has been the only means for car classification, clearly that’s the authority that everyone has been using. As I have not had anyone grumbling to me that the class break lines were unfair and that the classes were out of whack, I can only conclude that whatever inequity drove the change in the rule book, that discomfort seems to have dissipated. I’m therefore inclined to leave the status quo. We’ll immediately update the rule book to match the classification web site.

We also had another need for an immediate rules adjustment for the Showroom Stock PAX indexes. Our showroom stock classes are taken from the PCA national Parade Competition Rules classification listings for Large Regions. Since PCA is trying to incorporate all the relatively current Porsche models into just 7 classes, as Porsche adds new models, they have to re-apportion the models among the classes, trying to keep the competition as fair as possible. As the mix of cars within each class changes, we naturally need to adjust the PAX indexes we use for each class. PCA updated the Showroom Stock classes this year so we needed to adjust our indexes to match.

The methodology I used is as follows: first, I used the points system to classify the standard AX class for each car model in each SS class. This gave me a range of AX classes for each SS Class. As each AX class has a PAX index, I thus also had a range of PAX indexes for each SS Class. A graph of those ranges is shown below:

The light blue lines are the upper and lower boundaries of the PAX index range for each SS class.

Our new SS PAX indexes should obviously be somewhere within that range, but where? The PAX indexes for our AX classes step an average of 0.9% between each class. Assuming the PAX index is intended to be optimal for the car in the middle of the points range for a class, the fastest car in the class with a points total at the upper limit of the class has about a 0.45% advantage, and the slowest car with a points total at the lower limit of the class has about a 0.45% disadvantage. The showroom stock classes contain more variation in car performance, averaging about 2.7% within the class. If we set the PAX index for each SS class at the midpoint of the class range, then a driver of the fastest car in the class would have a 1.35% advantage over the average car – almost 6 times the maximum advantage possible in the AX classes. That didn’t seem fair. The SS class exist for maximum user-friendliness for new autocross beginners. But due to the larger variation in models and speed potential within each class, they are also inherently less fair for competition. We’d like to encourage drivers to move out of the SS classes and into the AX classes where they will find a deeper field of drivers and a more level playing field. I therefore wanted to avoid setting PAX index number for the SS class that could give a driver more advantage that they could get in the AX classes. That means the SS class PAX index numbers should be in the range of 0.45% below the top PAX index line for each class. Taking the point at 75% of the range seem to work out just about right.

The Showroom Stock class PAX indexes for this year are:

SS01      0.914
SS02      0.942
SS03      0.956
SS04      0.980
SS05      0.975
SS06      0.995
SS07      0.965

I acknowledge that making these unilateral rules changes for both the class divisions and Showroom Stock PAX indexes is not the proper procedure for making rules changes and not how we should operate on a normal basis. However, since we didn’t realize we had these issues until after our autocross season had already started, we needed immediate resolutions on these issue so that results for the first two autocross events could be compiled and published. If you feel aggrieved by either of these decisions in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can work out a rules change proposal for next year.

We’re also still waiting for a new autocross chair for next year to step forward. If we all want to keep racing, someone will need to step up!

Our next GGR autocross will be May 27th, back at Alameda. On-line registration will be open two weeks before the event.

Go fast!

Andrew Blyholder
GGR Autocross Chair
Remaining 2017 GGR Carlsen Porsche Autocross Series Calendar

Saturday, May 27th – GGR #3, Alameda
Saturday, June 24th – GGR #4, Alameda
Saturday, July 29th – GGR AX School, Alameda,
Sunday, July 30th – GGR #5, Alameda
Saturday, August 26th – GGR #6, Alameda
Sunday, September 17th – GGR #7, Marina (Zone Event)
Sunday, October 29th – GGR #8, Alameda (Zone Event)
Saturday, November 18th – GGR #9, Alameda

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